A long shelf is hung on the western wall.
A window that covers nearly all of the Northern wall letting in the perfect “paint by” light.
A table, a drawer, a short ladder, a high easel, a potbellied store, a sofa, a few chairs, two coats, two hats –the items that posed for his “still life”, are basically the only furniture present in the closed world of Cézanne’s Atelier.
Aix en Provence wasn’t just a “let’s go to the South of France” yippie kind of decision. It was a much dreamed of pilgrimage to walk in the footsteps of one of my favorite painters. To thoughtfully trek to“Le Terrain des Peintres” – literally Painter’s Ground – said to be the exact spot where Cézanne would go to paint the magnificent view of the Mont Sainte-Victoire. And visit his humble ochre painted atelier which stands today as it did on the day of his death October 22, 1906…his still life objects waiting inside for another closeup.
Cezanne’s Atelier (September 2016) Inside Cezanne’s Atelier –as he left it in October 1906. (September 2016) Cezanne’s Coats inside his Atelier (September 2016) “Le Terrain des Peintres” – literally Painter’s Ground – said to be the exact spot where Cézanne would go to paint the magnificent view of the Mont Sainte-Victoire. (September 2016)
Have you ever been to a place where you feel like you’ve been before…but know you haven’t? I had that feeling of familiarity the first time I traveled to Hawaii. Stepping off the plane in 1984 it was like a warm blanket had been draped around my shoulders. I felt “at home”. The smells. The sounds. The flavors.
My parents have a vacation place on Maui and my in-laws lived on the big island of Hawaii for many years, so I was blessed that life kept taking be back to this land of yellow hibiscus, beautiful people and the soft call of the Nene bird. I studied the history and folklore of Hawaii and fell in love with the relationship poet Robert Lewis Stevenson had with the young Hawaiian Princess Kaiulani (Victoria Kawekiu Lunalilo Kalaninuiahilapalapa Kaiulani) before her death at age 23.
In the summer of 1995, on Hookena Beach on the Kona coast, I dreamt of being a Hawaiian princess while reading the poem that Robert Lewis Stevenson wrote for Princess Kaiulani before she left for Scotland to start her formal education. It was a vivid daydream I’ll never forget.
Today, in my studio as Hawaiian music streamed through my phone, with the help of a colorful assistant and wonderful photographer I had some fun and made a little part of that dream come to life. It was hard not to smile.
The Island Rose Honolulu
Written in April to Kaiulani in the April of her age. To accompany Princess Kaiulani’s departure to Scotland for her education,
Inscribed in a red velvet album.
Forth from her land to mine she goes,
The island maid, the island rose’
Light of heart an bright of face:
The daughter of a double race.
Her islands here, in Southern sun,
Shall mourn their Kaiulani gone,
And I, in her dear banyan shade,
Look vainly for my little maid.
But our Scots island far away
Shall glitter with unwonted day,
And cast for once their tempests by
To smile in Kaiulani’s eye.
When she comes To my and her father’s, and the rain beats upon the window (as I fear it will), let her look at this page;
it will be like a weed Gathered and pressed at home;
and she will remember her own islands, And the shadow of the mighty tree;
and she will hear the peacocks Screaming in the dusk and the wind blowing in the palms;
and she Will think of her father sitting there alone. – Robert Lewis Stevenson
By Libbie Summers
Video Production: Jade + Matthew Take Pictures
Production Assistants: David Dempsey and Joshua Grotheer
With: Lauren Davis, Christian Heritage
Puppy: Sadie the adorable Golden Retriever (mom, the honorable Buffy Nelson)
The sun is setting on Summer in Savannah but there’s time for one last celebration in the park! Take a peek inside my spicy end of Summer soirée where a group of friends fan the flames of summer with the hottest of foods –all featuring my favorite ingredient, Pappy & Co. Bourbon Barrel Aged Pepper Sauce!
I didn’t think it would be that hard –finding a simple white top and flat shoes for a Barbie Doll. But it was. Because somehow through the years Barbie became a tramp.
You may ask, why is a grown ass woman playing with a Barbie? It’s not really that unusual…at least not for me. This my help explain. My job is creating whimsical food-inspired content for my own brand, A Food-inspired Life, and for other cool companies. This particular day I was building content around summer tomatoes. So naturally one minute I’m thinking about Campbell’s Tomato Soup can labels covering a pig head and then straight to dressing a Barbie up in a cheerleading costume with a red gingham skirt and a tomato emblazoned white top. Her cheering on her team…The Tomatoes. Nope, nothing weird there.
Five minutes on Etsy and I found the perfect skirt, handmade and vintage. Three hours and seven stores later there were no tasteful white tops to be found. No shirts, no sweaters, no nothing. Sure there was everything Barbie would need if she was working a pole. Clothing with colors and cuts that even the McQueen 1996 S/S collection would have thought too suggestive. But where were the wholesome Barbie clothes? A simple shift. A peter pan collar. A shoe that she didn’t need a step ladder to put on.
Under the gun for a scheduled photo shoot and never one to give up on a quest, I sent out a group text to some of my friends who had children of the Barbie playing age.
Me: “He guys! I need some Barbie clothes for a shoot tomorrow that aren’t slutty. Does anyone have anything? I’m looking for a white top and flat shoes.”
Betsy: “Nope, all slutty.”
Andrea: “Yep, same here. Super slutty.”
Julia: “I have a scooter riding outfit that’s not too bad. It has a cute helmet at least.”
Betsy: “Julia, you can’t wear 8-inch (proportionate) heels riding a scooter. That shit is slutty.”
All this got me thinking. When did this unachievable bombshell of a body that once wore long gowns and beautiful coats start dressing like a Russian prostitute? What the hell happened to Barbie? Where did wholesome Barbie go?
I started researching and it didn’t take long. All was going well with Barbie in the 1960’s and 70’s. She was adorable. All hair bows and high pony’s. Then, I’ll be Desperately Seeking Barbie damned if I didn’t notice a quick turn in 1985. Big hair, shoulder pads, cheap fabrics and crazy lady makeup. Barbie had clearly done her first line of coke. Blow. Crack. Flake. Snow. The signs were there. Aside from a clear lapse in fashion judgement. It was her weight loss and constant dilated pupils that were tell tale.
I wanted to get the true story from the horse’s mouth, but no one can really talk with Barbie. I reached out to her camp and received a canned response from her publicist, Skipper, stating “Barbie would not be doing any interviews at this time.” So I was left to my own mind to create the scenario. I choose to blame it all on Ken.
Ken was an asshole. Clearly gay and leading Barbie on with his chest baring Hawaiian printed shirts and flat front pants. Ken wasn’t being true to himself or Barbie. “No baby, you don’t need to finish college. I’ve given you a dream house. What more do you want.” I could hear him saying. With each sexless night, Barbie started doing more drugs. Her days spent riding around Malibu in her pink Ferrari 360 looking to score. Within my own imagination, I started hating Ken. In Barbie solidarity, I actually started hating all men named Ken.
No, in the end, I never found a white shirt or flat shoes for Barbie, so I painted them. The shirt a happy yellow. And the shoes, that were once a garish glittered purple, were transformed into oxfords with the sweetest of pom-poms adorning the toes. I wasn’t judging Barbie. She with no education and wilting beauty was left to do what so many wonderful women like her do –whatever it takes to feed their children and pay the bills. My goal was to uplift Barbie’s spirits. I wanted her to have a fun day full of smiles, cheers and dreams of a wholesome future where assholes like Ken don’t exist.
Fashion Disclaimer: When I went to put the vintage gingham skirt on Barbie, I had to snip a few threads to get it over her now Barbdashian butt.
In 1977 I prayed for a sassy new hair style. I know it wasn’t something Jesus would have wanted me to use up one of my prayers for, but I did it anyway. My stringy straight hair matched my interest in Friday night church service…lifeless. So I used that time I was required to spend in a pew wisely –praying for curls. Curls like the Catholic girls wore. Long and spiral…like strands of bouncy pasta. I was Protestant, but for the right hair, I was willing to convert.
In 1977 Charles Hix wrote Looking Good: A Guide for Men. Basically the coolest men’s grooming guide ever published. The men famed photographer Bruce Weber captured within the pages seem effortlessly put together. Perfect. Maybe too perfect. Maybe some of them prayed for a sassy new hair style too…
Thank you Charles Hix for writing the coolest book ever and helping inspire my noodle week!